Talent this and talent that! Where do all the average people work?
Talent this and talent that. Apparently, every company only recruits talented people these days, they even hire talented people called Talent Acquisition Managers to hire talented people for them. This raises a few points in my mind.
Most people are pretty average
Let us just reflect for a moment and consider that in reality, the vast majority, probably well in excess of 90%+ of the workforce of the world is at best average. That doesn’t mean they are not good at what they do, it just means that they aren’t especially gifted, they aren’t inspirational leaders, innovators or for that matter some kind of prodigy.
That diligent, gregarious and trustworthy Partner at KPMG didn’t spring from the womb with an abacus in one hand and a set of annual accounts in the other. The clinician at Boots wasn’t solving complex biology equations at the age of 5 to the utter astonishment of their parents.
They are however loyal, hardworking, diligent and do their job to the best of their ability with the sincerest intentions. Many even take a great deal of pleasure from what they do, the people they work with and for. They ultimately ensure that an organisation functions correctly to achieve its goals and continues to be profitable.
Many people do this whilst working with pretty average colleagues reporting to average managers who in turn report into average directors with what are in reality average expectations for companies that more often than not fly under the radar of everyone else but their employees, customers and service providers.
This is a good thing, imagine a world where every company was led by a character like Gates, Bezos or Branson. As much as I admire their endeavour and achievements, I suspect it would be pretty awful.
I suppose fundamentally it’s a nature-nurture debate. My experience leads me to believe that everyone is unique, everyone has a different set of expectations and needs and whilst nature (their DNA/Memes) will undoubtedly influence their potential (and the debate about which has the most influence was settled years ago, it’s pretty much 50/50) ultimately you’ve either got a talent or you haven’t.
Following the monumentally captivating achievements of Emma Raducanu in the US Open at the age of 18, there is no doubt that Emma has an abundance of natural talent that combined with her personality traits and attitudes and some first-class coaching has elevated her rightfully to a World-Class Talent status.
So what is talent?
Someone who is talented has a natural ability to do something well. Natural means existing or innate, not manufactured or influenced by humankind.
What a bizarre world, what a twisted concept is nature to believe that someone is born with a natural talent to be an accountant, a recruiter, a travel agent?
There is a debate in the realms of football (soccer for American readers) that Lionel Messi is a naturally gifted footballer, he has biological and physiological advantages such as enhanced perception, balance, vision, hand/feet coordination that provides the basics to be an extremely natural footballer.
Ronaldo on the other hand may have some of those, but they have been enhanced significantly by coaching, dietary, physiological development and supplemented by his attitudes and aptitudes such as having an exceptional work ethic, tenacity, a can-do, must not fail, win at all cost mentality. We all witnessed his almost complete transformation within 2 years of joining Manchester United.
But both of these footballers are literally one in a million if not more. Despite the tens of thousands of aspiring tennis players with immense work ethics, an appetite and aptitude for learning and practice, few if any will achieve the heights of the sublimely talented Emma Raducanu. The term talent/talented is entirely justified.
The wholesale use of the word talent in every job advert, job description and even job title isn’t. In fact, it is disingenuous, even harmful and counter-productive to the definition of the word and the to vast swathes of people discouraged from applying to those job adverts because they’re just ordinary, average, hard-working and diligent employees.
Where do all the average companies get their talent from?
Most companies are on the face of it nothing other than average. You only have to walk through any town in England and everywhere you look there are hard-working, long-standing businesses providing great service at a reasonable price.
These stalwart businesses provide the mundane stuff that we all need, makes our economy and our daily lives possible. Most of these with the best will in the world will never ever be an Amazon, a Microsoft or similar. The truth is that the vast majority don’t even want to be. Primarily because there isn’t a demand for them to be anything other than a reasonable business providing a much needed valued service or product at a price and in a way that their customers want.
But take a look at the world of work and all of these average companies must be bursting at the seams with frustrated talented employees desperately seeking that opportunity that will enable them to unleash their potential, open the door to an abundance of recognition and riches.
From the Purchase Ledger Clerk to the Commercial Property Agent to the Butchers Assistant and the Store Manager, they must all be despondent, miserable and broken by the sheer lack of recognition for their burgeoning talent and potential. Their eyes must light up every time they see a job advert posted by a Talent Acquisition Manager looking for talented people to work for one of the greatest companies the world has ever seen…
Meanwhile the rest of us, the hardworking diligent conscientious majority just plod along doing our jobs wishing we were in the top 0.5% or less that everyone apparently wants to employ.
The use, even abuse of the word talent really needs to stop. Happily, most people aren’t talented. They are simply good hardworking considerate people who do what it takes to do a job well, provide for their families and enjoy life to the best of their abilities, a little like my parents and my grandparents and most of my friends and family.
The reason I say “Happily, most people aren’t talented…” is because often as we see with singers, footballers, artists and actors, talent is often offset by some less savoury or at least less desirable personality traits and attitudes. Talent is often difficult to manage, difficult to harness and challenging to lead, direct or coordinate. Average people in diverse, complex teams tend to collaborate better and accommodate and compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses more effectively.
Plus of course, the small matter is that true genuine talent comes at a price, a price most ordinary, average companies cannot afford and there is no guarantee that paying that price will get you the results you desire.
In 2018, Monaco beat PSG to the French Ligue 1 title whilst having a wage bill that was 1/5th the size of PSG. Less “Talent”, less cost, better outcome. I’m sure for Monaco fans, their win was all the better because they did it on a fraction of the budget and proved beyond doubt that average can produce better results than an abundance of expensive talent.
I applaud all those amongst us who are simply average. I have a suspicion that it would be a distinctly unsavoury world if it was full of Ronaldo’s and Lionel Messi’s and similar…